Annie On Writing

June 22, 2016

Norfolk by Christopher Stanley

Filed under: Twisted Tales,Writing Tools — Annie Evett @ 11:30 pm
We arrive at the bungalow after midnight, Eddie snoring in his booster seat and Happisburgh lighthouse winking in the distance. It’s exactly as I remember it from my childhood, with waves crunching beyond the dunes and the salty tang of the sea breeze. This is it, I think, as I unpack my travel-weary limbs from the car. Eccles-on-Sea, on the North Norfolk coast, is where I’m going to find the horror story that resurrects my career.

I’m supposed to be an author but I haven’t sold a book in half a decade, not since my wife, Rosemary, gave birth to a boy-flavoured bundle of toothless smiles and Godless nappies. Eddie wasn’t planned and it’s hard not to blame him for my aborted career. The only reason I brought him with me is because Rosemary insisted I learn to write with him in the room. I tried to argue, pleading the need for authorial solitude, but he’s here and she’s not.

Half of Eccles was stolen by the sea some centuries ago and what’s left is barely a ghost town. They say a storm once shifted so much sand from the beach it uncovered the old graveyard, tearing open coffins and scattering skeletons up the coast. ‘With history like that,’ said Rosemary, ‘who needs horror?’

I fall asleep listening to the wind tugging at the dunes. In my dreams, the spirits of the dead crawl from the water to steal Eddie away, their fleshless fingers prising him from my grasp. I’m glad they’re taking him but I’m compelled to ask why. One word comes hissing back:

‘Innocent.’

I’m startled into consciousness by something clawing at my face. When I switch on the bedside light, Eddie’s on top of me, saying he had a nightmare in which hollow-eyed ghosts crossed the dunes and descended on our bungalow. ‘They took me away from you,’ he whispers, unaware of how similar our dreams were.

Outside, the shed creaks in the wind while rain pelts the windows. And there’s something else, something more deliberate. I hold Eddie tight, telling him there are no ghosts, only stories, but something is thumping the walls of the bungalow. The look on Eddie’s face says it all. The spirits have come for him; our dreams are coming true.

‘I’ll try not to let them get you, Eddie.’

‘You have to!’

For a moment, I’m confused, but then I remember that Eddie woke me up mid-dream. ‘In your nightmare,’ I say, ‘where did the ghosts take you?’

‘To the safe place.’

It isn’t rain hitting the windows; it’s spray from the rising sea. And the thumping sound is water. Somewhere in the bungalow a window shatters, and then another. The two halves of Eccles are going to be reunited, tonight. I cling desperately to Eddie, promising him I’ll never let go.

‘I’ll really miss you, Daddy,’ he says, pushing me away. ‘But I’ll tell everyone what happened and I’m sure they’ll buy your books again.’

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